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An Expat Talks about Retiring in Friedrichsdorf, Germany

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Friedrichsdorf

Why did you choose to retire abroad?

I was already working and living here and had purchased an apartment years ago.

Are you retired abroad all year or part of the year?

All year

Why did you choose the country you retired to?

I had already worked here for many years, then was transferred to another country, but returned to Germany upon retirement to live in my apartment.

Did you ever live abroad before you retired abroad?

I have been living abroad in various countries since 1968.

How long have you lived abroad since you retired abroad?

I retired two years ago and it's all be abroad.

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How many countries (other than your home country) have you lived in as a retiree?

As a retiree, only one.

What have been the most challenging aspects of being retired abroad?

Receiving a pension in U.S. dollars and the value of the dollar against the Euro declining; the global financial insecurity.

What have been the most rewarding aspects of being retired abroad?

Even with a modest pension and the declining dollar, a very high quality of life is possible.

What would you do differently if you were just starting the retire abroad process?

Nothing.

What is life like for a retiree in your city and its surroundings? (Is there an active expat community? Cultural Attractions? Recreation? Nightlife?)

Life for a retiree in Germany and especially in my surroundings is unlimited as far as all of the above. There is a large expat community, limitless cultural attractions, recreation and nightlife, plus living in a beautiful country high environmental standards and health.

What residency documents or visas did you need to obtain to retire in your host country? How difficult was this process? (Please describe)

A residency permit is needed and you have to indicate why you want to live here and show that you have sufficient income; health insurance is compulsive in Germany and you have to show that you are sufficiently covered.

Did you buy a home or apartment, or rent one? Is this a difficult process? (Please describe)

I purchased an apartment over 20 years ago. It is not much different that the process involved in purchasing in the U.S.

Financially, has living abroad in your host country met your expectations? Exceeded them?

Yes, I am managing rather well, but I plan carefully.

What are the most important financial considerations for retiring to your host country?

It's important to have some backup funds and to maintain a cash reserve for emergencies. Not much different than living in the U.S.

How much can a retiree live on comfortably in your host country?

This would fluctuate with currency ups and downs, lifestyles location and circumstances. These vary considerably so I cannot provide an accurate figure. But, a ballpark figure for one person, to be comfortable, would be about $50,000 a year.

Do you have access to quality medical care? (Please describe - is it close? Expensive?)

Medical care in Germany is of the highest order. Small towns and villages all have doctors and hospitals are nearby. Just a couple of months ago I was hospitalized for an emergency and my local internist, just a few steps from my home, quickly sent me to the hospital where I was admitted for an emergency operation which turned out to be peritonitis due to perforated appendix. The hospital is about 20 minutes away where I was taken by ambulance. Everything moved quickly and efficiently from emergency room, to surgery, etc. Being a private patient I have access to chief surgeon who was fantastic and has a great reputation. My 7 day hospital stay and care in the hospital (not one day too short nor one day too long) was superb. Over the years I have had several hospital experiences, all very positive. As my situation was life threatening I consider myself lucky to have been in Germany where I received such prompt and excellent care.

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Is there a lot of crime where you live? (Please describe)

No, not too much, but it does exist.

Describe available transportation where you live. Do you need a car? Is there access to safe public transportation?

For the first 18 months after retirement I did without a car and used public transport: bus and commuter trains. It's quite doable and requires some planning. However, having a car affords spontaneity and I got an opportunity to purchase a one year old used car with hardly any miles on it, a Toyota Aygo. It's a cute little car, extremely good on gas (I fill up about once a month). So I do get more out of life having wheels.

Is there high-speed internet access where you live?

Definitely!

Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share about retiring abroad?

I recommend it. People in other countries seem to know HOW to live. Surroundings play an important role for me and in Europe one is surrounded by beautiful architecture, history and nature. For people who are novices about travel and life in a foreign country should take baby steps by first traveling to a desired location and then looking into temporary rentals in different locations before settling on a place. Or this could be a way of life without committing for a long time and then experience life in different places. One should do some research. Almost all countries have expat websites that provide lots of helpful information.

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Comments about this Report

guest
Aug 23, 2011 16:25

This input as a sound and responsible description of an American living in Germany. We lived in Germany, on military assignment, back around 2003, and not too far from Friedrichsdorf. Undoubtedly, there is a good quality of life, in general. Public transportation is widely available and reasonably-priced (probably subsidized quite a bit, I'd imagine). But if you really want to LIVE and have flexiblity and spontaneity, including the chance to travel to other countries without being restricted to the district immediately surrounding the major train stations, you really need to have a private auto. FYI: while American environmentalists extoll the wonderful European, and especially German, public transportation networks...in reality, Europeans are "voting with their feet...and pocketbooks" by making car purchases an extremely high personal priority--and thus the roads are pretty crowded. As a result TRAFFIC JAMS NEAR THE MAJOR, AND EVEN MEDIUM-SIZED, CITIES CAN BE HORRENDOUS! It should be remembered that Europe's public transportation was really developed post-WW2, when the road networks were largely destroyed and few could afford cars, anyway; thus, Europeans didn't so much miss, as they are just being slower to adopt, the culture of personal transportation to the automobile. The writer extolled the benefits of strong smaller villages and even neighborhoods--and I agree with him completely. Germany is a nation of villages, first and foremost--but only if you are reasonably conversant in German, first. I knew military folks who were miserable in smaller towns, primarily because they were the only English speakers in their towns..and the Germans can be rather snobbish about that in the countryside. In the mid-to-major cities, nearly everyone speaks English at least as a 2nd language...you can get by fairly well even w/o German...but if you're going to be a retired resident, you really should learn the language. Otherwise, I think you'll be packing it home within 3-4 years. This review's writer was clearly very conversant with the German language, given his long period living there. The notes about culture are spot on. We LOVED travelling through Germany.

guest
Aug 30, 2011 06:41

I found this very interesting. I'm English, a retired civil servant and living currently in Spain. I am now closely involved with a German lady and am thinking of relocating to Vilsbiburg in Bayern. I would like to hear from anyone in a similar situation. In particular I need information about the German health system as regards retired people from other EU countries settling in Germany. I have spent several long spells in Germany in the last 3 years and my German although adequate needs improving. DPJ

guest
Aug 30, 2011 13:06

Great report, very helpful and experienced info. Thank you.

guest
Apr 3, 2012 03:27

I am English and have been living in Germany since 1978. I live close to the Luxembourg border where I worked for 20 years. I live in a small village where ther are 3 buses a day, mornings, midday and evenings, no other püblic transport so a car is essential. I retired 8 years ago and am in the the national health system, the AOK and pay 10 percent of my accumalative pensions (UK, Luxembourg and Germany). I travel a lot, and feel it is time to move to another country. For the gentleman thinking of moving from Spain to Bayern I would seriously consider the weather in Bayern as a negative. I live very close to the oldest city in Germany, Trier, and the Mosel river which is beautiful but after so many years! My next country will probably Hungary.

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